People v. Schmidt

Decision Date16 June 1994
Docket NumberNo. 92CA2087,92CA2087
Citation885 P.2d 312
PartiesThe PEOPLE of the State of Colorado, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Gregory Allen SCHMIDT, Defendant-Appellant. . V
CourtColorado Court of Appeals

Gale A. Norton, Atty. Gen., Raymond T. Slaughter, Chief Deputy Atty. Gen., Timothy M. Tymkovich, Sol. Gen., Robert M. Petrusak, Asst. Atty. Gen., Denver, for plaintiff-appellee.

David F. Vela, Colorado State Public Defender, Lindy Frolich, Deputy State Public Defender, Ellen K. Eggleston, Deputy State Public Defender, Denver, for defendant-appellant.

Opinion by Judge NEY.

Defendant, Gregory Allen Schmidt, appeals the judgment of conviction entered upon a jury verdict finding him guilty of second degree sexual assault. We affirm.

Defendant was charged with first degree sexual assault. He admitted having intercourse with the victim but contended that this was done with the victim's consent. This alleged consent was defendant's sole defense at trial.

I.

Defendant first contends that the trial court erred in its rulings on challenges for cause of two prospective jurors. We do not agree.

To ensure that the jury is impartial, the trial court must sustain a challenge for cause of a potential juror if there exists a state of mind in the juror evincing enmity or bias toward the defendant or the prosecution. However, if the court is satisfied that the potential juror will render a fair and impartial verdict according to the law and to the evidence submitted at trial, that person should not be disqualified. Section 16-10-103(1)(j), C.R.S. (1986 Repl.Vol. 8A); Crim.P. 24(b)(1)(X).

Even if a potential juror expresses some prejudice or predisposition other than a bias against the accused, a disqualification for cause is not necessary if the trial court is reasonably satisfied that he or she is willing to be fair and to follow instructions. See People v. Taggert, 621 P.2d 1375 (Colo.1981). Thus, the ultimate test to be applied is whether it appears that the potential juror would render a fair and impartial verdict based upon the evidence presented at trial and the instructions given by the court. People v. Abbott, 690 P.2d 1263 (Colo.1984).

The trial court is afforded broad discretion in deciding whether to grant or deny a challenge for cause of a potential juror, and a decision denying such a challenge will be set aside only when the record discloses a clear abuse of that discretion. People v. Russo, 713 P.2d 356 (Colo.1986). This standard recognizes that the trial judge is in the best position to assess fully the attitudes and state of mind of a potential juror by personal observation of what may appear to be inconsistent or self-contradictory responses to difficult questions. People v. Sandoval, 733 P.2d 319 (Colo.1987).

A.

Defendant challenged for cause a potential woman juror who had been a victim of sexual assault forty years earlier. When the trial court denied the challenge, defendant exercised one of his peremptory challenges. He maintains that this unwarranted use of a peremptory challenge adversely affected his right to a fair trial.

Defendant is correct in his assertion that this potential juror clearly displayed the emotional impact of her personal experience as a victim of a sexual assault, even expressing that she wished she had killed her attacker. However, in evaluating a challenge for cause, the entire testimony of a prospective juror must be considered. See People v. Abbott, supra.

Here, the prospective juror also indicated that she would be able to judge more fairly because she'd "been through it," that she could put her own experience out of her mind and base her decision solely upon what she heard in the courtroom, that she could listen to the instructions and apply the law to the facts as the sole basis for her decisions, that she could avoid empathy or prejudice, and that she believed her experience would enable her to tell if someone were speaking truthfully.

Although we might have reached a contrary result, our review of the record does not reveal the clear abuse of discretion required to set aside the ruling of the trial court.

B.

A second potential woman juror was excused when the prosecution's challenge for cause was sustained. Citing Bustamante v. People, 133 Colo. 497, 297 P.2d 538 (1956), defendant asserts that this allowed the prosecution an additional peremptory challenge and thus adversely affected his right to a fair trial.

This potential juror repeatedly expressed her opinion that, after hearing all the instructions and the evidence, she would not be able to make a decision as to defendant's guilt or innocence. Though she also said she would "probably not" be unfair and, if selected, would not render a verdict contrary to the law and evidence, she expressed specific unwillingness to serve as a juror in this case. She expressed a particular aversion to serving as a juror in a trial of a charge of sexual assault and asserted her religious beliefs as a reason.

Again, based upon the record before us, we perceive no abuse in the exercise of discretion of the trial court.

II.

Defendant asserts that the trial court erred in declining to allow disclosure of material relating to prior sexual conduct of the victim. We disagree.

Although defendant did not comply with the requirements of § 18-3-407, C.R.S. (1986 Repl.Vol. 8B), pertaining to evidence of prior sexual conduct or prior reports of sexual assault, the trial court nevertheless conducted an in camera hearing to examine the evidence in question.

Specific to defendant's contention of relevancy as to the victim's credibility was his belief that the material documented an earlier instance in which the victim had falsely reported a sexual assault.

The trial court's examination concluded that the material contained no evidence of "false reporting of a rape incident" nor other evidence of an exculpatory nature. Rather, it showed that a third person reported that the victim had been raped while the victim told police that she had not been raped. A further statement made by a "dorm assistant" to the effect that she thought the victim might have a personality disorder was factually unsupported.

Our review of the material likewise reveals no failure to disclose evidence favorable to defendant. Consequently, we disagree with defendant's contention that he has been denied his right to due process as set forth in Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83, 83 S.Ct. 1194, 10 L.Ed.2d 215 (1963). There is no constitutional right to introduce irrelevant and inflammatory evidence. See People v. McKenna, 196 Colo. 367, 585 P.2d 275 (1978).

Therefore, because the trial court here correctly determined that the prior sexual conduct that had occurred nine years previously and that had not involved a false accusation was irrelevant, we discern no denial of defendant's constitutional right to confront his accuser.

III.

Defendant next contends that the trial court erred in its failure to instruct the jury on third degree sexual assault as a lesser included offense. We do not agree.

Section 18-3-403, C.R.S. (1986 Repl.Vol. 8B) provides:

(1) Any actor who knowingly inflicts sexual penetration or sexual intrusion on a victim commits sexual assault in the second degree if:

(a) The actor causes submission of the victim to sexual penetration by any means other than those set forth in section 18-3-402, but of sufficient consequence reasonably calculated to cause submission against the victim's will; or

(b) The actor causes submission of the victim to sexual intrusion by any means other than those set forth in section 18-3-402, but of sufficient consequences reasonably calculated to cause submission against the victim's will; or....

Section 18-3-404, C.R.S. (1986 Repl.Vol. 8B) provides:

(1) Any actor who knowingly subjects a victim to any sexual contact commits sexual assault in the third degree if:

(a) The actor knows that the victim does not consent; or....

We recognize that third degree sexual assault may be a lesser included charge of second degree sexual assault. People v. Staggs, 740 P.2d 21 (Colo.App.1987). However, a trial court has no duty to instruct juries on the elements of a lesser included offense unless there exists a rational basis in the evidence to support a verdict acquitting the defendant of the greater offense and convicting him of the lesser. People v. Velarde, 790 P.2d 903 (Colo.App.1989).

If the evidence is such that the defendant is either guilty of the greater offense or not guilty of any criminal conduct, an instruction on the lesser offense is inappropriate. Apodaca v. People, 712 P.2d 467 (Colo.1985).

Here, there was no dispute that defendant had sexual intercourse with the victim. And, in our view nonconsensual sexual intercourse, in contrast to other forms of sexual contact without consent, requires the submission of the victim.

Defendant admits that the victim said "no" to his request for sexual intercourse but states that he did not believe she meant it. We conclude that the statement "no" provides a sufficient basis upon which a jury could find that a victim resisted sexual intercourse and that a defendant thereafter caused "submission against the victim's will."

In so doing, we reject the rationale of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in Commonwealth v. Berkowitz, 537 Pa. 143, 641 A.2d 1161 (1994) ("no" is not relevant to the issue of force). We instead specifically conclude that a victim's statement of "no" is relevant to the issue of "submission against the victim's will."

Because the defense at trial was consent, there was no basis for giving a third degree sexual assault instruction, for if the victim did consent to intercourse, then defendant would not be guilty of second degree sexual assault. Conversely, if the victim refused to consent to intercourse, but did consent to sexual contact, then defendant would still be guilty of second...

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    ...of Review1 ¶ 7 We review a trial court's decision to grant or deny a challenge for cause for an abuse of discretion. People v. Schmidt, 885 P.2d 312, 314 (Colo.App.1994). We apply this very deferential standard of review because the trial court is in a unique position to analyze the juror's......
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2 books & journal articles
  • ARTICLE 3 OFFENSES AGAINST THE PERSON
    • United States
    • Colorado Bar Association C.R.S. on Family and Juvenile Law (CBA) Title 18 Criminal Code
    • Invalid date
    ...denied the alleged prior rape properly excluded because it was not evidence of false reporting of a rape incident. People v. Schmidt, 885 P.2d 312 (Colo. App. 1994). Evidence of victim's reputation for sexual conduct was not relevant, in order to show defendant's state of mind at time he co......
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    • United States
    • Colorado Bar Association C.R.S. on Family and Juvenile Law (2022 ed.) (CBA) Title 18 Criminal Code
    • Invalid date
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